The Zen of Needlepoint


Erin's Vintage Collection

Where I live, needlepoint stitchers typically don’t blog.  That’s not just Florida;  I’m beginning to think the same can be said pretty much about everywhere.

But there is a niche population of stitchers out there who occasionally do so.

The question is, how to reach them.  I’d love to read their stuff out in the blogosphere.

It might be that the reason there are so few (see my blogroll, for some fine examples) is the absence of an audience (that is to say, traffic of motivational size).  Or that blogging is a lot of work, when you think about it, and that stitchers would rather be stitching in their spare time.

To my knowledge, WordPress does not release comparative numbers, only traffic flow in the aggregate (I could be wrong, but I have not seen averages broken by blog category).  So it is impossible to determine if traffic on needlepoint blogs are less or more than, say, news or cinema or art-related ones, although inferences can be made by studying viewer comments.

Now, I’m not talking about the ones who write so-called faux blogs, that is to say, blogs that are meant to drive some commercial activity, some of whose URLs are registered through proxy domain LLCs.

There are plenty of those.  (IMHO, there’s nothing wrong with press release or trunk show announcement or product update style blogs, per se, which make free use of WordPress, as a marketing tool, so long as the commercial intent is plain to the viewer.)

But the dearth of non-commercial, active needlepoint blogs is almost painful, given the overall size of the blogosphere.

Just search with the key words “needlepoint blog”, and you will see what I mean.  Not a single active blog, in the first page or two at least, of, say, Google, by anyone who is not trying to sell something.  The same situation seems to hold true when you look at that Read Blogs section in WordPress that I mentioned a few posts back, although in a less pronounced fashion.

So where is everybody?

I’m talking about those who blog about needlepoint stitching in the pure, as it were.

The ones who enjoy discussing an unstitched canvas, as they contemplate stitching it, or the project(s) they are currently stitching, or the ones they have just finished.

Maybe because it’s so difficult to paint a word picture that captures the essence of a particular project, what I’m calling here the Zen of Needlepointing (I’m surprised there isn’t a book by that title out already, at least not on Amazon).  I love to look at finished work, but the uploaded image of a finished canvas, bare without a story behind it, hardly conveys the journey taken and what was gained by the stitcher in stitching it.

I like those backstories, and will try to put some of my own in here.  But sharing those backstories is kind of a communal activity, if you will, and stitching for some is a solitary activity.  Not always, of course.

Personally, I don’t often needlepoint with a group, but some needlepointers enjoy this.  In Florida, they call these Stitch ‘n Bitch sessions.

Those types of small gatherings are held in the clubhouses of gated communities, or in private homes.  They are sometimes needlessly big on setting arbitrary rules about needlepoint stitching, but for many, are enjoyable social occasions.

But I don’t think younger needlepoint stitchers, wherever they may live, are keen on that sort of thing.  And I doubt they bother much looking for needlepoint forums either.  Or chatrooms.  I hope they blog, though, or read blogs about stitching needlepoint.  And I’d definitely like to know what they think of a hobby I’ve done all my life.

To me, the best stitching is meditative.

Something done without hurry or distractions in a calm and quiet place.

Maybe blogging about it is just optional.

© Erin McGrath and, 2012 – 2016.


About Erin

Owner of Needlepoint Land, LLC. Professional in the field for more than 15 years, during which I have managed and/or worked with various high-end needlepoint shops. I enjoy teaching both beginners and advanced stitchers, and have created numerous stitch guides, with speciality thread selections, for in-store customers and private clients. I maintain contact with an extensive network of needlepoint vendors, custom artists, and, most importantly, reliable, high-quality finishers. I look forward to hearing your comments on my blog!

5 responses »

  1. Hi Erin, lovely to hear from you. In answer to your questions, I think you’re right, hessian is what you’d call burlap (I hadn’t heard that before, but I just Googled it and I’m pretty sure that’s the same stuff – basically what sacks are made from, although I tend to use the sort that upholsterers use. It’s a bit hit or miss, and I do sometimes use the regular congress/mono canvas, especially when I want something to stay reasonably straight. I’m experimenting with some new hessian at the moment. I rather like the unevenness of the weave, but it doesn’t lend itself to all designs. And yes, I do design all my own pieces – I tend to paint/draw the loose design onto the canvas, then away I go. Sometimes the canvas lends itself to a particular design. On the whole I’m doing more abstract pieces these days. I’m particularly influenced by stained glass, which I like to try and capture the essence of in wool/silk etc. I tend to be very conservative with stitches – almost entirely working in what you call continental, or variations on that. I love texture in some pieces, but I’ve never found any other stitch I feel happy doing myself. I love the fact that needlepoint is so versatile and that you can create so many different styles in design and texture. What excites me most is the fact that each piece is patiently created, one stitch at a time. I think there’s room in the needlepoint world for very many design styles to express themselves – traditional, folk, figurative, right through to avant guard – each work is always special, always contains a little of the essence of the person who stitched it. I’m really happy to have found your site – I’ll add a link to mine too.

  2. Hi Ann, thanks very much for your nice comments. I just went to your blog and enjoyed looking at your beautiful work. I absolutely adore that tree you did–gorgeous! I do have questions that maybe you can expalin to me and perhaps those who come by needlepoint land. What exactly is “hessian”? Is that what we call burlap in the US? I must admit I have never stitched using that material, although I have used what we call here Tula. I found that to be really nice to work with and to boot, it’s 10-count. Another question I had is this: do you do your own designs? It does look like you stitch designs that are less structured and more free form than how we generally do needlepoint in the us. So… are these your own designs? They are wonderful! It is nice to see more abstract free form ways at looking at needlepoint design, and I would like to know more about what you think of traditional US designs. Well, thx for stopping by the place where I lurk. I’ll be sure to put you on the blog roll.

  3. Hello, I think I might just be the sort of person you’re looking for. I too am an avid needlepointer, I live in England and have been doing needlepoint for as long as I can remember, and I blog!
    But you’re absolutely right, it’s a nightmare trying to find other people who do/feel the same. I only found your site this morning after some time browsing the web.
    I have a small and totally untested theory about why needlepoint blogs aren’t swamping blogland – firstly, the ways in which people describe what they do, varies enormously – canvaswork, tapestry, needlepoint – I’m still not sure what to describe myself as; I’d like to say needlepoint artist, but I don’t think that expression exists? Secondly, as you so well say, needlepointing is meditative. It’s slow, well at least mine is, and so I think we spend so much time absorbed in the process, that writing about it can be difficult, especially when you don’t feel that there’s anyone ‘out there’ listening to you.
    I am incredibly pleased to have found you!

  4. I think that is deffo something to think about. Let’s see if other people are also interested, and then maybe we can get something going. thx for your comment.

  5. Well, if there isn’t a community, you can create one! I know I’ve always loved needlepoint and dabbled over the years, so I will enjoy reading your blog 🙂

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